I HAVE signed the Military Construction Authorization Act for fiscal year 1968.
This measure authorizes $2.3 billion for the construction of such projects as air bases, hospitals, barracks, and naval depots. It will help provide the brick and mortar to modernize our military installations not only in Southeast Asia, but throughout the world.
In signing this bill, however, I must express my concern over three provisions which are inconsistent with the sound management of America's military establishment and raise questions concerning the constitutional separation of powers.
The first provision requires the continued operation of the Naval Academy's dairy farm. It provides that only an act of Congress can ever close that farm down.
Thus the Congress, which has given the Navy Department authority over the world's most powerful fleet, has withdrawn the Department's authority over 380 cows.
The second provision goes far beyond dairy farms. It freezes the present geographic boundaries of the 11 Naval Districts. It also freezes the location of their headquarters. And it provides that no less than a rear admiral can command each district.
But times change and requirements change. And the American taxpayers, in the interest of efficiency, expect the Government to change too. I believe that this restriction is detrimental to sound management practices. I believe that the Department of Defense should retain the flexibility it needs to organize and manage its internal affairs properly.
The third provision prevents the Department of the Army from closing Fort DeRussy, Hawaii. Again, it singles out one installation and says that only the Congress can order it closed. And again, efficiency and good management within the Defense Establishment are threatened by such inflexibility.
Just because a piece of real estate has always been used for military purposes in the past does not mean that it must be so used forever. Federal property is not the exclusive domain of any department or agency. It belongs to all of the people, and it must be used for the benefit of all of the people.